Don’t Leave Money on the Table: Making Recruiters Work for You

A few months ago, my colleague Evan Pollock from Talution’s sister company, Objective Paradigm, wrote a piece titled, “Optimize Your Job Hunt: Why Work with a Recruiter?” In that post, he laid out the top reasons why working with a recruiter can give you the leading edge in your next career move.


I wanted to take the time today to expand on one of the reasons he mentioned — the power of negotiation — and how working with a recruiter can help you obtain the compensation your credentials deserve.


Whether, you’re having a compensation conversation with a recruiter or a new employer, here are a few things to keep in mind:


  • Be honest with what you are currently making. Although it may seem like a tactic to leverage a higher salary, ultimately you may end up risking your credibility. In most cases, your most recent compensation is verified by your prospective employer.


  • Do your homework. Gather data that backs up the compensation you are asking for — and don’t just leave it at a quick Google search. While searching online platforms such as Glassdoor or will give you a broad sense of range, speaking with a recruiter in your space will give you the most accurate sense of what you could and should be earning.


  • Stay within reason on your salary demands. Once you’ve found that supportable number, you then have to communicate it to your potential employer. You can ask for a higher number — there is a negotiating process in many cases — but keep in mind this is still a part of the evaluation process. Potential employers may take pause on considering and interviewing you if you’re asking for more than what they have budgeted and what they’re paying current employees for the same position.


  • Remember that compensation is more than salary. Take into account the full package, i.e. value of benefits, bonus structure, PTO, profit-sharing equity (stock), to evaluate your offer. It’s easy to just focus on salary, but all of these things together determine your total compensation for the year.


  • Look at the bigger picture. In the same sense, your initial compensation shouldn’t be the only reason to accept (or not accept) a position. What is the career upside? What new skills will you pick up? Is the direction of your potential employer aligned with your ultimate career aspirations? It may seem like a sideways step from a compensation perspective, but it may be a strategic move for an opportunity with a great deal of career upside.


  • Apply for other jobs. This moves the needle more than anything else — the most accurate temperature gauge of the market is offers in-hand. If you have competing offers from other players in the industry, you will gain leverage when negotiating compensation.


These points are valuable whether you’re negotiating directly with a potential employer or working with a recruiter who is speaking on your behalf. The expertise and experience of a professional recruiter will only assist you in getting fair value for yourself. In other words, they know which firms are willing to pay what, and they know how to get you the best possible offer. If you have questions about working with a recruiter, please reach out to me at


Kelly Hallgren is the practice leader at Talution Group, a Chicago-based firm specializing in recruiting and placing consultants within the finance, trading, and tech industries.